10 villagers shot, tribal activists claim fake encounter in Chhattisgarh’s Pidiya village | India News

RAIPUR: Tribal activists on Monday reiterated their allegation of a fake encounter in Pidiya village and claimed that 10 of the 12 killed by security forces on May 10 were innocent villagers, including two who were ‘guests’.
According to activists of Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan, the villagers were “chased and killed” by security forces while collecting tendu leaves.They claimed six villagers, including a 15-year-old boy, were injured, and that police rounded up 50 villagers, some of whom were arrested.
Police denied the charges and said those killed in Pidiya were Maoists, many of whom carried bounties. CM Vishnu Deo Sai has backed the security forces, praising them for the encounter. Maoists, meanwhile, have admitted that two of those killed in Pidiya – Punem Kallu and Uika Budhu – were PLGA cadres and had gone to the village to recuperate from illness.
“On one hand, the CM is advocating dialogue with Maoists and on the other, he applauds security forces and overlooks killing of innocent civilians. Dialogue isn’t possible in such an atmosphere. The killing of even one innocent person is a serious incident, and we demand govt ensure that no innocent, unarmed person is killed by security forces in Bastar,” the activists said in a statement.
At a press meet in Raipur, activist Bela Bhatia and former legislator Manish Kunjam alleged that govt has not responded to numerous complaints, “creating a climate of fear in Bastar villages”.
“Killing any unarmed person, regardless of whether they are a Maoist leader, is wrong,” they said. “Security forces should only fire in self defence, but they are killing people on mere suspicion of being Maoists, which is illegal,” Bhatia said.
State Congress chief Deepak Baij has written to deputy CM Vijay Sharma that villagers told a Congress fact-finding committee that it was a fake encounter. “When witnesses and villagers are alleging a fake encounter, what is preventing govt from investigating it? Let a HC judge-monitored probe clear up the picture. Congress is equally worried about restoring peace in Bastar, but not at the cost of innocent villagers,” Baij said in his letter. “A tribal never lies and if locals are making this allegation, then a probe is expected,” he said.
In response, Sharma said those labelled ‘innocent’ faced cases of murder and attempted murder.

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